The further you go in the study of anatomy, the more interesting it becomes. Made of soft and pliable material, elastic yet strong, capable of unlimited movement and of performing countless tasks, operating on self-generated power, and repairing or renewing itself over a period of time in which the strongest of steel parts would wear out—the human body is indeed an engineering miracle.
On the opposite page the male and female skeletons have been set up. I have kept the head units alongside so that you may relate the bones to the figure in correct proportion.
The skeleton, though strong, is really not so rigid as it appears. Though the spine has a rigid base in the pelvis, it possesses great flexibility; and the ribs, too, though they are fastened firmly into the spine, are flexible. All the bones are held together and upright by cartilagc and musclc, and the joints operate on a ball-and-socket plan with a "stop" for stability. The whole structure collapses with a loss of consciousness.
Strain upon the muscles can usually be transferred to the bony structure. The weight of a heavy load, for example, is largely taken over by the bones, leaving the muscles free to propel the limbs. Bones also form a protection to dclicatc organs and parts. The skull protects the eyes, the brain, and the delicate inner parts of the throat. The ribs and pelvis protect the heart, lungs, and other organs. Where protection is most needed, ♦:he bone comes closest to the surface.
It is very important for the artist to know that no bone is perfectly straight. An arm or a leg drawn with a perfectly straight l>one will be rigid and stiff-looking. Curvature in the bones has much to do with the rhythm and action of a figure. It helps make it appear alive.
The chief differences between the male and female skeletons are die proportionately larger pelvis in the female and the proportionately larger thorax, or rib case, in the male. These differences account for the wider shoulders and narrower hips of the male; the longer waistline, lower buttocks, and wider hips of the female. They also cause the female arms to flare out wider when they are swinging back and forth and the femur, or thigh bone, to be a little more oblique. The hair and breasts, of coursc, distinguish the female figure, but they are merely its most obvious characteristics. The female is different from head to toe. The jaw is less developed. The neck is more slender. The hands are smaller and much more delicate. The muscles of the arms arc smaller and much less in evidence. The waistline is higher. The great trochanter of the femur extends out farther; the buttocks are fuller, rounder, and lower. The thighs are flatter and wider. The calf is much less developed. The ankles and wrists arc smaller. The feet are smaller and more arched. The muscles, in general, are less prominent, more straplike—all but those of the thighs and buttocks, which are proportionately larger and stronger in the female. This extra strength is, like the larger pelvis, designed to carry the extra burden of the unborn child. Concentrate upon these fundamental differences until you can set up an unmistakable male or female figure at will.
Note the black squares on the male skeleton. These are bony prominences where the bones are so near the surfacc that they affect the contour. When the body becomes fat, these spots become dimples or recessions in the surfacc. In thin or aged figures, these bones protrude.
Working from life or photographs will not eliminate the necessity of knowing anatomy and proportion. You should recognize what the
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